Simone Biles Credits Naomi Osaka For Inspiring Her To 'Focus On My Mental Health'

by Madison Vanderberg
Jamie Squire/Cameron Spencer/Getty

Simone Biles elaborates on why she dropped out of Tuesday’s events at the Olympics

Simone Biles, overall GOAT and shining star of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, suddenly withdrew from Tuesday’s team gymnastics final because of an unspecified “medical issue.” However, a few hours later, she clarified that her sudden departure from the final was to protect her mental health, after saying fellow athlete Naomi Osaka inspired her to prioritize her well-being.

Biles said she was taking it “one day at a time” and didn’t rule out participating in other Tokyo competitions in a press conference, though she told reporters that Osaka inspired her to take her mental health seriously and that her current state is making it impossible for her to compete in Tuesday’s event.

“Whenever you get in a high-stress situation you kind of freak out,” Biles told reporters. “I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well being.”

“We have to protect our body and our mind,” she added. “It just sucks when you’re fighting with your own head….I feel like I’m also not having as much fun — and this Olympic Games I wanted it to be for myself and it felt like I was still doing for other people — and that hurts my heart that doing what I love has been taken away from me…[We’re] not just athletes, we’re people at the end of the day.”

“There’s more to life than just gymnastics. It is very unfortunate that it has to happen at this stage because I definitely wanted this Olympics to go a little bit better,” Biles concluded. “But again, take it one day at a time. We’re going to see how the rest goes.”

Biles shared that the team plans to have a “mental rest day” on Wednesday, though Biles is currently scheduled to compete for the all-around title on Thursday, and on the vault, uneven bars, floor and balance beam from Saturday through Tuesday.

Biles withdrew after competing in the first event, the vault. It’s normally one of her best, and she planned on performing a difficult move with two-and-a-half twists. However, she ended up completing only one-and-a-half twists and then stumbling on the landing.

On Monday after the event, Biles shared an Instagram post, saying the day was not “easy” and that she feels “like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times” and that she struggles to “brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me.” Compound this with the fact that the games are occurring a year later than planned, during a pandemic, with no spectators, no family for support, and athletes testing positive for COVID-19 and it’s a wonder any athlete is able to endure any of this.

We applaud young women like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka for understanding their limits, protecting their health, and advocating for their needs. Truly, GOAT level stuff right here.